State Roundup


Businesses with overdue water bills get warning
DETROIT (AP) — The Detroit Water and Sewerage Department is putting businesses on notice that it will shut off water service if they don’t pay their bills following recent efforts to crack down on residential customers who are in arrears.
The department plans to send warning letters this week to about 200 commercial and industrial customers with accounts listed as more than 60 days overdue, including a golf business and a cemetery, The Detroit News reported Wednesday.
Active commercial and industrial sites account for about one-third of the $90 million in past-due bills that the department says it is owed. The top 40 on that list, according to the department, have past-due accounts ranging from around $35,000 to more than $430,000.
“All we’re doing is taking enforcement action to protect the integrity of the system,” said Bill Johnson, a department spokesman. “We have not been very aggressive in cutting off water over the years. We admit that. The people will pay their bill when they’re forced to pay their bill.
“Part of it is our fault. We’ve never had a strict enforcement policy on paying the bills.”
The department in March announced plans to crack down on residential customers, leading to thousands of shutoffs and prompting protests from longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. John Conyers of Detroit and others who want water service restored to those homes.
More than 22,700 accounts in the city are listed as commercial or industrial. The department said they collectively owe $33.8 million.
One owner of a Warren real estate group that owes more than $80,000 said the problem with its account stems from a tenant.
“The property doesn’t have active water on the site — not even a meter,” said Michael Samhat, president of Crown Enterprises Inc. “We’re not sure how this bill got generated. Right now, we’re working with the tenant trying to help them and we want to work with the city of Detroit water department.”
The News and the Detroit Free Press reported that the water department has unveiled a $1 million program to help low-income residents pay their water bills. The program is funded by a voluntary program that takes 50 cents from each paying residential customer’s bill, along with varying amounts from commercial customers, the department said.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, following a Tuesday news conference, said the delinquent water bills “could have been handled in a far more sensitive way.”
“We should have had funds for those who genuinely can’t pay set up ahead of time,” Duggan told reporters. “We should have had more rigorous notices before we saw people turning off water.”
Livingston County moving ahead on jail expansion 
HOWELL, Mich. (AP) — Livingston County has approved plans to issue up to $15 million in bonds to pay for a jail expansion as part of an effort to deal with overcrowding at the facility.
The Livingston County Daily Press & Argus and WHMI-FM report the county’s board signed off on the plans this week.
Chairwoman Carol Griffith says the current facility “is out of compliance and poses potential liability issues.”
On a typical day, for example, the jail has 60 female inmates even though it has beds for 31. The expanded jail is proposed to have beds for at least 80 females. Overall, the $16.7 million expansion will increase capacity from 254 beds to 411.
Reserve funds also will help fund the project. Construction could start this fall and be completed by May.
Judge asked to toss ‘98 Kalkaska murder conviction 
KALKASKA, Mich. (AP) — A man serving a life sentence for the murder of a northern Michigan woman is asking a judge to throw out the 1998 conviction.
Lawyers from the University of Michigan’s Innocence Clinic returned to a Kalkaska County courtroom Wednesday. They say Jamie Peterson’s conviction was based on false statements made during police interviews.
DNA evidence has led to charges against another man, Jason Ryan. His trial is scheduled for December.
But state police say the new developments don’t exonerate the 39-year-old Peterson. Investigators believe there was more than one person involved in the sexual assault and death of 68-year-old Geraldine Montgomery in Kalkaska in 1996.
Michiga­n man wanted in WWII killings dies at 93 
BERLIN (AP) — German prosecutors say a Michigan man they were investigating over his alleged service in a Nazi-controlled police force during World War II in present-day Ukraine has died in the U.S.
Munich prosecutors had been investigating John Kalymon of Troy on suspicion of murder since 2010 and this year issued an arrest warrant aimed at triggering his deportation for trial. They said Wednesday that U.S. authorities told them Tuesday that he had died at age 93 — meaning their investigation is over.
Prosecutors said Kalymon was a member of the Nazi-sponsored Ukrainian Auxiliary Police in Lviv. They suspected him of being involved in the 1942 roundup and deportation to a death camp of Jews in Lviv, part of pre-war Poland.
Kalymon, who lost his American citizenship in 2007, denied any involvement.
Trial for ex-teacher accused of sex with girl, 13 
ARMADA, Mich. (AP) — An ex-Michigan science teacher accused of having a sexual relationship with a 13-year-old student has been ordered to stand trial.
Twenty-six-year-old Robert Yaek is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, plus computer and child pornography crimes. The girl was in his seventh grade class at Armada Middle School.
On Tuesday, Romeo District Judge District Judge Denis LeDuc ruled there’s enough evidence to send the case to trial. Yaek remains jailed with a $400,000 bond and has a July 21 date in Macomb County Circuit Court.
WXYZ-TV reports that defense lawyer Paul Stablein says the girl’s testimony indicates she and her teacher didn’t have intercourse.
County Assistant Prosecutor Brian Surma says that despite some inconsistencies, the evidence shows that sexual activity took place.
New program seeks to seize drug houses 
DETROIT (AP) — Detroit officials say they’re taking steps to seize drug houses from their owners.
Mayor Mike Duggan, police Chief James Craig and City Council members Brenda Jones and Andre Spivey announced the program Tuesday.
They say that starting this week, police will notify the Detroit Land Bank when they conduct drug raids.
The officials say authorities will verify the identity of the property owners and the land bank will send them a notice by certified mail that a second drug incident will lead to an anti-nuisance lawsuit.
The announcement says the suits will ask for court orders awarding title of the properties to the land bank.
Detroit began filing suit against owners of vacant homes in April to get them to fix the properties or lose title to them.
Royal Oak
Doctor will give new ear to girl mauled by raccoon 
ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan girl whose face was mauled by a pet raccoon when she was a baby is about to get a new ear.
A surgeon will attach the organ during a 6- to 8-hour procedure Thursday at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.
Dr. Kongkrit Chaiyasate (SHY’-ah-set) took cartilage from Charlotte Ponce’s (PON’-sayz) ribs in April and carved it into the shape of an ear using a computer-generated template based on the 12-year-old’s other ear.
He then implanted the ear structure under the skin of Charlotte’s forearm. The skin since then has been molding to the ear shape.
Chaiyasate already has done work rebuilding Charlotte’s nose and repairing her lip and cheek.
The Spring Lake girl is expected to remain at Beaumont Children’s Hospital for about a week following Thursday’s surgery.


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